Monday, November 21, 2005

My prize winning entry for the "Story Board" competition

The dark shadows cluttered the ceiling with the rhythmic motion of breathing. It was a small room that just about wrapped around the five souls that inhibited it. Additionally to eat into the space was “Hamid”, the canine companion which shared our cozy space. It was the early hours of morning with darkness yet to remove its shroud. The soft snores filled the air and the clock added to the motion. This hazy feeling matched the state of the affairs in my life which seemed convoluted in all possible directions. There are certain phases of your life when your existence becomes a container of questions and puzzles that perplex your senses. It was the feeling of sitting on a cloud, ignorant to the discretion of whether the motion originated from the movement of the cloud or due to the spinning earth that housed the cloud. Lying beside me were people who were strangers, yet my only hope for any kind of accomplices who would standby me. Their physical complexion was dissimilar to mine, which was true of all Jewish people who inspite of being fair skinned had a touch of pinkness to their skin that made them stand out of the crowd. Me, being a true American gal, with a moon glass spectacles and tiny spots of pimple on my face, looked like a true misfit into this family. But I never was a part of their lives a fortnight ago, for I was amidst different surroundings; just that the exact memory of it fails me. My extreme efforts to recollect those thoughts go in vain with a splinter of a headache hurting my forehead. But of late, strange events had graced my otherwise obfuscated existence. My supportive ‘patrons’ had apprised me of my fleeting transitional states where I spoke as a different person and refused to recognize any of my present inmates. I also feigned a different gait in my motion. My benefactors had now concluded that I was a person who suffered memory loss during a tragic accident from which they had rescued my life. But these recurring flashes of memory, which I regained for a short period time of time was tough to explain. There wasn’t really a coherent pattern to the appearance of such flashes and the time period for which it persisted varied as well. My life now shuttled between these meta states refusing to settle the storm of questions raised in my mind. I eased back on my pillow trying to drown the queries in to my sleep. But, ironically, that evaded me as well. Just when I finally managed to conquer sleep, a weird pain hit my senses and I was falling into the memory pit, yet again…….


We are finally there. The snow capped mountains extending an icy invitation. Sharon was equally excited and jumpy on this Skiing trip. Our athletics coach, Mr. William, was busy mouthing out instructions on our accommodation and safety precautions to follow. This trip was a very different one considering the fact that we were about to be housed in “Hilton Ice” ski resort, courtesy a student’s father who was the Operational Executive for the Hilton chain of resorts, in this part of the world. This one time, we had managed to slip past the tyranny of the old wooden cabins and the discomfort that they oozed. My heart skipped a beat when I stood at the imposing foyer of the “Hilton Ice” which was easily the most impressive building structure I had witnessed in my entire life. Gray walls of steel glazed with reflective mirrors perched as windows was definitely a sight to behold. The blue clouds above admired themselves on these glass planes adding a touch of blue regal to the view. With gasped breath and awestruck eyes, I was dragged into the stranded elevator and the impatient operator waiting in it. Later in the warm interiors of the room, I sat beside the window admiring the towering peaks which had their tips covered white. What a beautiful sight…………..


It was day break at last. Was it a dream or just another fit of memory rushing back to me only for a small slice of time? Hahn, the loving patriarch of the family, chided me awake. He often caressed my head in an affectionate fashion. Streaks of sunlight were streaming into the room swashing it with brightness. It was a tiny deserted building in the corner of an US army base. Warriors fighting in Iraq were usually embarked on their flight to the troubled Arab country from this very base station. Men clad in grey uniforms were the most common sight to an onlooker in this place. Heavy trucks and tankers rolled in and out of the station at a brisk rate. The icy mountains of Andes were a good 100 miles away; the place where I was found in an unconscious state with minor injuries and bruises all over my body. The Jewish family, who were basically Nomads, took me along in their caravan and tended me back to health. I had begun to accept the present realities with nothing to really look back to, but the niggling memories troubled my peace and ignorance. Days passed into weeks and the latter into months. The war was at its peak with no respite or truce at sight, the latest developments were encouraging though. UN committee had intervened to bring about a ceasefire between the warring nations. A peace treaty was in the offing in the near future. The family I stayed with kept themselves busy by doing odd jobs and were content with their current settlement. Life was now pretty normal since my memory flash had not paid me a visit since quiet a few months now. I was mending a worn out tent cloth when the familiar pain came back to me and things started spinning out of control…………..


Clad in warm jacket and other winter clothing we carried across the skis to the lift. Sharon insisted that we start from the Bleak Curve which was track for advanced level skiing. Inspite of my worst fears, I put up my brave front to push aside all the foreboding augurs. But once we hit the snow on our sleek skis, the fear was replaced with torrid excitement which just drove me into action. After a couple of unsteady moves I gained confidence and gathered speed. Soon the trees and flags started zipping around me. I was thoroughly enjoying myself when I turned into a steep curve that just pushed up my momentum further. Slowly, I realised that everyone else was left far behind and I was on my own. My mother’s words of caution and grumble now started resounding in my ears. I, suddenly, felt left far away from home and looked back in desperation. At that very instant, I realised the track was ending into a high cliff jump end. All my efforts to steer away went in vain and I simply flew out of the edge. The fall in the air seemed to last forever when I suddenly hit the soft snow and rolled on to crash into an old tree. Fading sights engulfed my vision when………….


I realised I was screaming while sweating profusely. Hahn rushed to my side to comfort me. He was quick to realise that I had yet another memory reoccurrence. He helped me push some liquid into my throat and carried me home. Things now were much clearer to me. I was finally able to fit in the missing pieces of the puzzle to retrieve my past. I couldn’t really remember the specific people or names from the past, but the sequence of happenings that had traversed me into the present state had dawned on me. The fact that a family out there was fanatically searching for me or worse, mourning my death, was now slowly sinking in. I yearned to make contact with my roots and was hoping another memory ride would educate me on those facets. But alas it eluded me with a smirk and shoved me into the bandwagon of time.
I was woken up with shouts of joy; everybody seemed to be rejoicing over something. Amidst his euphoric outburst, Hahn managed to convey the news that the war had ended and peace was finally salvaged. The army post was buzzing with activity in the fervent anticipation of the homecoming for all the brave soldiers. All the fences and walls were plastered with the posters which depicted Uncle Sam shaking hands with the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussien. It was quiet a comical sight but the final amicable outcome was most welcome. I sat on a stone near the air strip contemplating on what these happenings could possibly herald in my life. We had a couple of airships landing here since morning, ferrying jubilant and relived soldiers back to their home country, the Land of Opportunities, as they call it. I was longing for a similar kind of homecoming where I could rejoin my family. But I guess it would definitely be a strange sensation to meet my true parents whom I wouldn’t be able to recognize or relate to. Or maybe I would regain my memory when I do see them. Strange are the ways of GOD. Another copter now landed into the airstrip with a dozen soldiers huddled in it. They soon jumped out of their captivity and moved around to the thunderous welcome they got from the people in the army station. I continued watching them with idle curiosity when one of them stared at me for quiet a long time. The soldier soon started walking in my direction. I continued to gaze at him wondering what he would expect from a stranger like me. His face brightened with recognition as he walked closer and rushed to hug me. Bewildered I stood dazed not really knowing how to react. He gushed, “Jane, what on Earth are you doing out here. Don’t tell me you have travelled all the way here to welcome me back home. But wait, you wouldn’t possibly know that I would be back.” He face was brimming with joy, but the slight frown arising from his array of question was tough to hide. I continued to stand speechless and just stared back at him. The gleam disappeared on his face and he was shaking me coaxing me to speak. Thankfully, Hahn appeared there at the right moment accosting the soldier. They had a lengthy and confused argument from which I preferred to stay away.
Finally, the soldier whose name was Bill Thompson, as I learnt later, was a friend of mine who went to college with me. He was enrolled in the army as a supply civilian and had gone ahead to fight the war for America. He was able to put together pieces on my strange appearance here from the outputs of Hahn and my limited memory. He was going back home and volunteered to safely escort me back home. With no better option, I decided to go with him hoping I would be soon restored to my family and the link to my lost memory. My patrons reluctantly bid me farewell and promised to meet me soon.
As I drive away homebound in a train today with my friend Bill, I put these befuddled thoughts into paper hoping it will make sense to me someday. My jolts on paper matching up with those of the wheels on the tracks, hoping for the future to dawn facts about myself to me…………………


1 comment:

PizzaDude said...

I dont know what to say except "Hats Off"!!!!
That was an awesome piece.
I think you should seriously consider writing as a career.